back to article EU reduces science cuts as Juncker finds €500m down back of sofa

Fears that European Union funding for scientific research would be drastically cut have been somewhat allayed. European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker had wanted to siphon off money from the €80bn Horizon 2020 research programme to the European Fund for Strategic Investments, but following pressure from MEPs and …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Where is this money going to? Is it just going to be spent on political projects (e.g. The Ukraine as was rumoured before). If so, it's not really science funding, it's dogma funding.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Where is this money going to?"

      You mean Horizon 2020? Most of it goes to EU universities, much of that to French and UK institutions.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        So that's Horizon 2020 which was receiving a €2.7bn cut and is now receiving a €2.3bn cut. Ukraine is not even part of the EU and is now entitled to compete on equal-footing with EU science institutions for Horizon 2020 funding. So that means there is actually more of a cut for EU science institutions and money is being diverted out of Horizon 2020 to prop up the EU's political meddling in a country which has fallen into civil war.

  2. Panicnow

    Academics need a reality check

    Many academics are pro-EU because a lot of their funding passes through EU programmes. They don't realise that out of the EU, the same funds will be there, but without EU admin taking a 20% slice, rules that make them "partner" with second rate EU universities, rather than first rate global ones, and that the money is allocated to EU political "priorities", not scientific ones.

    1. James 51

      Re: Academics need a reality check

      Sounds a lot like the academy plan for schools.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Academics need a reality check

      "Many academics are pro-EU because a lot of their funding passes through EU programmes."

      Citation needed. Very few academics actually get EU funding, compared to the number of academics in UK universities. There are a few schemes like Marie Curie that have a fair few people, but compared with RCUK, EU funding is much smaller. I offer another potential explanation.

      "Many academics are pro-EU because they spend a lot of time going around the EU, have friends in many different countries, and being in the EU makes their lives a lot easier."

      There is, of course, a third explanation, but you might not like it. Academics are, on the whole, among the best educated in society. Being anti-EU is correlated with being xenophobic and racist. (Not a perfect correlation, but enough of one to work statistically.) Being xenophobic and racist is highly inversely correlated with education. Therefore academics, statistically, are more pro-EU than society at large.

      "rules that make them "partner" with second rate EU universities, rather than first rate global ones, and that the money is allocated to EU political "priorities", not scientific ones."

      Rules for ERC Starting grant: the primary criterion is excellence of research. Nothing more.

    3. David Lester

      Re: Academics need a reality check

      As an academic getting some EU money (about 15%, since you ask), here's your reality cheque:

      (*) If the UK is to make savings from its exit from the EU, it cannot be intending to recycle the money in exactly the same way; otherwise where would the saving be? It'd be pretty naive to think that my current EU grants would continue upon Brexit, and fairly unrealistic to expect that the UK would pay for further EU science participation.

      (*) All academic funding in the ICT field is made with an eye to enhancing technological competitiveness. I have an interesting project which is stymied because it is not in the UK's interests to let industrial tech leak to Australia, and not in Australia's interests to boost our Tech Industry. So this project is never going to happen. Nor will it happen if/when we are out of the EU: it would still not be in Australia's interests to pay for ARM to become more dominant.

      (*) Academic funding is offered for a number of reasons. Some are to provide individual researchers with funds to do their own thing; examples are responsive-mode EPSRC (UK) and ERC Advanced Grant (EU). Others, such as Marie-Curie (EU), or EPSRCs DCT (UK) grants provide funding for PhD students. And some are to promote collaborative research, i.e. H2020 FET-ICT (EU) and EPSRC Programme Grant (UK). I find a mix of these is the most effective way to undertake my research: the collaborative programmes give you a much broader perspective of how your research fits into a wider field. (Full Disclosure: I believe the only grant scheme I have not held from the list above is the Marie-Curie.)

      (*) There is no requirement to have a weak European partner, and every reason to avoid them: they will make effective working extremely hard.

      (*) Both Switzerland and Norway pay over the odds to be members of EU Science, as does Israel. In addition they do not sit in on the meetings to decide on the next five year research agenda. The Swiss have complained loudly about being cut out of the Marie-Curie and ERC schemes, which was a result of their referendum refusal to extend free movement to Slovenian nationals. In particular the withdrawal from ERC caused problems since their universities have been using the award of ERC advanced grants as a proxy for the academic quality of their academics.

      (*) Finally, the last I read about Juncker's proposed alternative destination for the H2020 money it was supposed to go to the CAP. The UK receives more than it pays into the science budget, but far less than it pays in from the agriculture budget.

  3. John Styles


    Had hoped everyone would be chiming in with their favourite EU project story.

    1. David Lester

      Re: Disappointed


      As part of GEC Hirst Research Centre, I had the immense privilege to work with Pierre America's POOL/DOOM team in my first EU project: ESPRIT 415.

      My favourite moment was being asked to explain to the lab director how it was possible for a meeting "to have ordered and consumed over a bottle each for lunch?" My reply, which was accepted, was: "There were a significant number of Frenchmen attending the meeting, Sir."

      Since the project meetings took place every six weeks, my late father also took to asking: "When are you going to get a real job? You're enjoying this one far too much!"

      I also discovered that despite it's no alcohol policy, GEC accountants must have assumed that "wijn" was dutch for some sort of duck!

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